Paging Dr. Holloway!

TSZ member Eric Holloway is the latest rising star of the “Intelligent Design” movement. Such a meteoric rise is bound to attract attention and it has indeed caught the eye of veteran biologist Professor Joseph Felsentein who noticed a comment young Eric posted here at TSZ and remarks


Eric Holloway just made a dramatic announcement on The Skeptical Zone, in Dieb’s thread on the number of posts at the ID site Uncommon Descent. In this comment he concludes “At least in my personal interactions with people, it seems like ID has won the debate”.

Professor Felsenstein has a few questions for Eric and hopes he may find the time to respond. I’m just helping out in case Eric has missed Joe’s post at the Panda’s Thumb.

Help Dr. Lenski to Design Real LTEE

[Admin edit: This thread is, with the agreement of the thread author, a rule-free thread.]

As most TSZ readers already know, Dr. Lenski has been growing bacteria for 31 years now… Unlike the 99.99% of evolutionary biologist, who spend most of their time speculating about evolution, he set out to test evolutionary capabilities, or that what most of us thought he had, by laboratory experiments……

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Swamidass Webinar-All about Behe

Dr. Swamidass, who apparently calls himself “a new voice in the origins of life”, was a part a webinar with Jonathan McLatchie, a well known apologetic among the supporters of ID.

I think that the 2 hour discussion was actually very interesting, despite my earlier scepticism about it…I was wrong about Swamidass in some ways (I was wrong about his beliefs mainly), so it turned out to be interesting… Initially, I wasn’t going to join the webinar, as I usually take time off from any activities on Saturday, but my kids challenged me… So, I did, but I did miss the great majority of Swamidass’ intro…

Please note that no matter what question asked, Swamidass, if possible, refers it back to Behe… I’m sure it is obvious why… “
My questions are at 1:24.00 aa

Link to McLatchie’s Facebook page

Hard or Impossible? Neil Rickert’s attempt to ‘explain consciousness.’

Neil Rickert was at it again attempting to ‘explain consciousness’ over at PS at the imperative-phrased invitation of Joshua Swamidass to: “Tell me how you think consciousness evolved.” https://discourse.peacefulscience.org/t/rickerts-ideas-on-consciousness/3684/

Neil had written this: “What it really boils down to, is that there is no such thing as metaphysical truth. There is only conventional truth. And different social groups will disagree over their social conventions.”

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On the Evolution of a Novel Function

Published on 5 March 2019 in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America:

Molecular mechanism and history of non-sense to sense evolution of antifreeze glycoprotein gene in northern gadids

Xuan Zhuang, Chun Yang, Katherine R. Murphy, and C.-H. Christina Cheng

You can read the article here: https://www.pnas.org/content/116/10/4400

The authors show how an apparently irreduciblly complex phenotypical element arose by a combination of mutation and natural selection.

Skepticism, Pragmatism, and “Postmodernism”

Over in Sandbox I started discussing some of my readings of Sellars, Rorty, and related philosophers, and a few folks said they’d be interested in an OP. So here we go.

Much of my training and scholarship over the past 12 years has been on what’s called (variously) “pragmatism” and/or “American philosophy.” What I want to do here is tell a brief story about the history of American pragmatism, without getting too technical or pedantic. In particular I want to focus on the distinct kind of philosophy that American pragmatism was and is, because it’s very different from the sort of Western philosophy that most people are taught in schools and colleges.

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The cholesterol paradox

As the reviews of professor Behe’s new book Darwin Devolves continue, many who participate in the discussions on many blogs or websites may have noticed the seeming paradox involving high fat, high cholesterol diet and heart disease issues… Dr. Behe devoted a good portion of his book to the issue of the devolution of the polar bear, which supposedly evolved, or rather devolved according to Behe, to tolerate the drastic switch from the dietary habits of its ancestors some 400 000 years ago…This particular issue I’m planning to cover in one the upcoming OPs…

This OP is more of an introduction to the fat/cholesterol/heart disease issue that while it seems complicated at the first glance, it really isn’t…

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Ethereal spaces

Look up at the dark clear moonless night-time sky. What do we see? Points of light arranged against a deep dark background. I propose that in the points of light we see physical substance, matter, and in the darkness we are looking into the encompassing ethereal realm.

There are certain fundamental processes in the universe, one of which is expansion and contraction. Goethe observed this in plants and in crystallisation out of solution we see a contraction of a substance into its solid state.

Likewise the points of light we see in the night sky are processes of matter condensing out of the surrounding ethereal space. The ethereal creates a void in which matter forms and cosmic space which is void of matter is actually filled with etheric activity.

The processes of expansion and contraction are taking place at all levels, as above, so below. Our physical eyes allow us to see the stars and other heavenly bodies but it takes more than physical senses to see the etheric.

Why there probably wasn’t a guard at Jesus’ tomb

Christian apologist Professor Tim McGrew recently defended the historicity of Matthew’s account of the guard at the tomb, in a post put up by his wife, Dr. Lydia McGrew. Professor McGrew’s post was written in response to a challenge he issued to me, in response to my (generally positive) review of Michael Alter’s book, The Resurrection: A Critical Inquiry (2015), which was published at The Skeptical Zone last year. Not wishing to address the bulk of Alter’s arguments, which he considered unconvincing, Professor McGrew challenged me to narrow the focus of our discussion, by listing three of Alter’s arguments which I had found particularly convincing. The first topic on my list which Professor McGrew chose to address was the question: was there a guard at Jesus’ tomb? However, it turns out that McGrew’s argument for the historicity of Matthew’s story of the guard is based on faulty math – a surprising flaw, coming from a man who has written extensively on the subject of Bayes’ Theorem and its role in Christian apologetics. Before we have a look at the math, though, I have a special announcement: Michael Alter himself has decided to weigh in on the controversy, and I have included his remarks in this post.

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Darwinism Kill-Bear by Behe

As some already are aware many, even the most biased Darwinists, have abandoned their belief in Darwinism, especially recently…

So, one might rightly ask: Why do we still need to review Behe’s book if Darwinism is dead? Why did Behe even need to write the book in the first place?

Well some, while few left, still believe that Darwinism, although dead, could be kept on life-support for at least a little while, or another 31 years, as Lenski, one of the three musketeers, hopes for…

Why? I will try to cover this in one of my upcoming OPs…

Few facts about Behe before we get to the kill-bear:

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Darwinism is dead

Apparently. This, at least, is the latest incantation. Repeat it often enough, and it is so. So what has actually died? What elements of Darwin’s theory(/ies) of evolution have been buried? I can certainly think of one – his theories of variation were wrong, superseded by Mendel, which simultaneously solved one of his dilemmas. But is that it?

Plants evolved the sophisticated math abilities?

In the retrospect of the publicity over Behe’s Devolution book, which exposes Darwinian evolution as the devourer rather than the builder of novelty in life systems, the sophisticated arithmetic calculation done by plants provide proof that, at the very least, if this ability evolved, it couldn’t have been by any know evolutionary mechanism today….

“Plants do complex arithmetic calculations to make sure they have enough food to get them through the night, new research published in journal eLife shows. Scientists at Britain’s John Innes Centre said plants adjust their rate of starch consumption to prevent starvation during the night when they are unable to feed themselves with energy from the sun. They can even compensate for an unexpected early night. here

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Comparing Internet Argument Styles: Creationists, IDists, Scientists

Skeptic magazine has an interesting article, based on a 2017 article in Science & Education, describing a study that compared the argument topics and argument types found on websites discussing origins issues. It is not clear from the Skeptic article whether they counted arguments on discussion forums.

The comment I found most interesting is:

[T]he ID creationism approach has been, and continues to be, primarily a program meant to prove the existence of God. It therefore bears more resemblance to natural theology and apologetics than it does to science. Seen in this light, it is surprising that ID creationists once believed that ID would somehow help them achieve their goals.

The author characterizes the irreducible complexity argument as an argument meant to prove the existence of God. I suppose some here would disagree.

I think the ID creationists may have believed ID would help them achieve their goals only because creation science had been so decisively rejected. At that point it was either become more scientific or become more apologetic, and science was clearly not a way forward.

The original article is R. M. Barnes, R. A. Church, and S. Draznin-Nagy. 2017. “The Nature of the Arguments for Creationism, Intelligent Design, and Evolution.” Science & Education, 26, pp. 27–47.

Darwin Day Devolves?

I have always been perplexed as to why people would want to celebrate Darwin’s day…What has Darwins really accomplished? Was he a savior or enslavor?

Here is what Richard Dawkins wrote about Darwin:

“An atheist before Darwin could have said, following Hume: “I have no explanation for complex biological design. All I know is that God isn’t a good explanation, so we must wait and hope that somebody comes up with a better one.” I can’t help feeling that such a position, though logically sound, would have left one feeling pretty unsatisfied, and that although atheism might have been logically tenable before Darwin, Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” – Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker

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